The misadventures of a first time father

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Everything’s not awesome.

It was a lyric that turned the catchy earworm of a song, “Everything is Awesome,” from the first installment of The Lego Movie on its ear in a dramatic turn in philosophy.

Everything’s not awesome

Things can’t be awesome all of the time

It’s not a realistic expectation

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try

To make everything awesome

In a less likely, unrealistic kind of way

We should maybe aim for not bad

‘Cause not bad, well that would be real great

Like many movies out there, we’re late to the game in catching up. We don’t watch a lot of new movies and tend to stick to whatever might be family-friendly and streaming on Netflix at the time, or something out of our DVD collection. But we rented both of the Lego Movies lately (The kids liked them both while I enjoyed the first more than the second) and though I wasn’t as fond of the sequel, I walked away from it taken by this musical flip in attitude.

Lego Movie Second Part CoffeeBecause everything is not awesome. It does not always have to be. Sometimes things just being mundane, just being “not bad” IS okay. If every moment is special and spectacular, then nothing is. If we’re always feeling euphoria, then we’re never really experiencing it because we have nothing to compare it to.

And if we can have an awareness of this in our adult lives, or at least have it as an awareness to strive for, then why is it so much more difficult to have it for our children? Why do we have such high expectations of them, expecting them to behave with the life experience and perspective of an adult when they haven’t even gotten close to there yet?

I am by no means perfect and I often have to remind myself that I can have too high of expectations for our children. Sometimes the noise they’re making, the mess they’re creating, the just plain bouncing off the walls, is part of being a child. I can not, realistically, expect them to behave like little adults, with the outlook and perspective on their choices and behavior that I do, because they have not lived my life. They’ve got more than 30 years of living and experiences to go through before then.

Lego Movie EmmettWe get upset when they’re not behaving well all the time. We don’t look at it that way, of course. They could behave all day and then, when they finally slip, we get upset that they’re not acting the right way. We focus on that negative moment and boil over instead of having some perspective that the rest of the day went pretty darn well. How can we expect them to be good all day long when it sure isn’t possible for many of us adults to do? Appreciate the good moments, verbalize appreciation for it. The bad moments are going to come, but it becomes all too easy to let them overshadow everything else. Pick your battles. I’m trying to teach myself this currently.

They’ve got energy they need to get out. Sometimes it IS accomplished just by being over the top silly, wacky, rolling around on the living room floor, standing on their head, etc. Again, a battle I’m fighting with myself to let go of some of the times and not get bothered by.

Yes, we love them. Yes, they can still drive us nuts. Because yes, they’re children – children exploring their world, themselves, and everything under the sun as they gain experiences and perspectives that it has taken us parents a lifetime in which to achieve…and for many of us, we’re still working on ourselves.

So cut them some slack and ourselves too. Set the boundaries, but let them be kids. Pick your battles.

Because everything’s not awesome. 

Things can’t be awesome all of the time

It’s not a realistic expectation.

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Shazam and SivanaA rare opportunity presented itself this past weekend. Some close friends of more than 25 years got in touch to let me know that they were headed to the movies that very night, for a late (late by my standards these days) screening of Shazam! at 9:40. Was I interested?

By that time, the kids would be asleep. Meg was fine whether I went or stayed, with no plans on our end either way. So, in a rare (these days) display of socialization, I left the house after 9 and headed to the multiplex (do they call them multiplexes still? Is that a dated reference?)

So you went to the movies, you’re saying. What is so weird about that?

I’ll offer you the small bit of perspective that makes this very rare in our personal case: the last time Meg and I went to the movies together was to see Toy Story 3 in 2010. Since then, I went to the movies in Christmas 2017 to see The Last Jedi with my brother-in-law, and when Meg and I (and gramma) took the kids to see Mary Poppins Returns this winter. Those are any movie-going ventures of the last decade. So a cinematic commitment like this was a personal big deal.

shazam - ordwayAnd I was excited. I’ve always enjoyed the Captain Marvel / Shazam characters and story about a boy and his friends gaining adulthood and super powers when they say a magic word. It’s the ultimate in childhood wish fulfillment.

Admittedly, I haven’t read a Shazam comic since Jerry Ordway’s masterpiece of a series Power of Shazam in the 90s (it hasn’t been collected, which is a crime to comics, so if you find issues of the series, pick them up), so I was going in with no contemporary knowledge of the character.

With that said, I loved this movie. Loved it!

It was a superhero movie full of heart and an emphasis on family. The entire cast is dynamite. Zachary Levi, who I loved watching on Chuck back in its day on NBC, was better than I could have imagined as the child in the adult body of a superhero, while Mark Strong made Dr. Thaddeus Sivana more terrifying than I ever would have thought from the comic pages I remember. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Grace Fulton as Mary…the list goes on and on, but every single one of them brought an earnestness to the screen that was an absolute delight.

Shazam Family

As I say, there was a lot to this version of the character I was unfamiliar with (but am told can be found in more contemporary comics, which I’ll have to now check out), but none of that mattered as I sat there in the movie theatre. I was in awe. I smiled, I laughed, I got excited every time I heard that magic word and lightning struck, causing the transformation from boy to hero and back again, and me as audience viewer into a kid all over again too.

Far too often I hear cries for realism in comic books and their movie counterparts, especially when it comes to super heroes. But super heroes in and of themselves are, you know what? Not that realistic. So if we’re skewing reality anyway, why not make them fun, and maybe even uplifting? It’s what Christopher Reeve’s Superman did, and Shazam does in spades thanks to its stellar cast, sharp script courtesy of Henry Gayden and keen direction of David Sandberg, not to mention the countless other crew and cast members that make a film possible.

It was a delight.

Sure, there were a few “sh!$s” and middle fingers that didn’t bother me but would prevent it from being accessible to younger audiences or a full family with little ones (along with the scariness of the Seven Deadly Sins personified). However, even with that said, it certainly is something I plan to add to my rarely expanding DVD collection for future viewing.

This was hands down the best superhero feature film effort I’ve seen from Warner Bros / DC Comics in the past decade or so and should be the tonal template by which other superhero movies follow.

And as I try to avoid any and all spoilers, please, stay for the credits. As if the film itself didn’t carry enough easter eggs for fans of the Big Red Cheese, the mid-credits scene brought in one of my all-time favorite villains and sets up a potential plot for another installment.

“More ways than a mind can imagine,” indeed.

If this is what lies ahead, sign me up now.

Shazam!

Bring on the sequel.

shazam mr mind


© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationSince the little guy was born, our movie viewing has taken a nosedive. The last movie we saw in an actual theatre was Toy Story 3.

To be honest, if it weren’t for Netflix and our own DVD collection, we probably wouldn’t see anything.

But, with Meg and the monkey off at camp this week and me working, it was sort of like being a quasi-bachelor for a bit. Meg told me while they were away I should re-enact Risky Business. (Although she apparently meant dancing in the living room and not so much the Rebecca DeMornay-prostitute part. Who knew?)

My evenings have been spent not so much in that Tom Cruise/Old Time Rock and Roll mode, but more in a ‘take a deep breath, crash on the couch and veg out watching movies’ mode.

So, a few of the movies that I just don’t feel comfortable watching with the little guy around, and I figure Meg probably doesn’t want to see anyway, have all been on the menu this week. From Captain America to the Avengers, I’ve been having a geek-out film fest with me and the cats.

And I have loved them all. I admit that for being the comic book nerd that I am, my knowledge of the Marvel Comics universe is limited. I was a DC guy growing up. Despite that, I have no qualms saying that Marvel is so far ahead of the game when it comes to their live-action movie franchises than DC is right now.

Captain_America_The_First_Avenger_posterTake Captain America for instance. Set against the backdrop of a propaganda, ‘ra-ra-America! Keep em’ Flying!’ backdrop of World War II, I enjoyed every single moment. I suspended disbelief completely and just sat back and had a terrific trip back in time to fictional 1940s America. I love the explanation of the Captain America persona and outfit as a propaganda piece for the war effort, until alter ego Steve Rogers takes it upon himself to be a real hero. And with a villain as improbable as the Red Skull as the main antagonist (I mean, come on, his head is just that – a red skull), there’s a lot that could have gone wrong. With Hugo Weaving in the villainous role, though, it just fired on all cylinders for me. I should’ve popped up a big bowl of popcorn for it, as it would have been appropriate for this big, explosive, fun piece of comic nostalgia.

As I say, I don’t have a vast knowledge of Cap or many Marvel properties, but I do know how popular he was throughout the war years, with plenty of adventures against the Nazis and the Red Skull. So, I thought it was handled wonderfully in the film when, instead of one adventure/brawl with the skull and that’s it, we instead, through montages, actually see adventure upon adventure of Cap as he takes on the Skull at various points in the war. It never slowed the film down, yet still gave you that sense that Cap was fighting well through the bulk of the war years, just like he did in the comics. And, they even kept things true to the comic history by having him frozen in ice so that he could re-appear in the modern super hero world, just like when creators wanted to bring Captain America back decades after his original run ended in the war years.

I’m so glad I watched Cap before The Avengers, too, as it was the perfect setup for the superhero team extravaganza. I haven’t yet watched Thor, but figured I could get the gist of The Avengers without it. Director Joss Whedon (whose creations of Buffy and Angel, yes, I used to watch week to week when they were on the air) had a pretty monumental task in front of him, as trying to put all these characters (Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor and Hawkeye) into one movie just, by any account, does not make sense. There is no logical way for it to work, but Whedon makes it work, again just going for pure fun that lets you leave all cynicism at the door because you’re having such a great time watching it.

the-avengers-film-stillI knew I’d love Robert Downey Jr’s performance as Tony Stark/Iron Man, as I had already seen the first Iron Man movie and fell in love with it purely on his performance.

As I say, Chris Evans surprised me as a wonderfully charming and inspiring Captain America in both films, but another pleasant surprise was Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Wow, what a performance. His suppressive, introverted, socially awkward performance really made you feel for him as a man hiding a monster and trying his best to keep it in check. The man took what could easily be a one-dimensional comic character and made him real and interesting. Bravo, Mr. Ruffalo.

I enjoyed them both so much that now I can’t wait for the sequels…although I’m sure I’ll be waiting a lot longer for them to turn around on Netflix. 🙂 But when they do, I’ll be ready with a big bowl of popcorn and dorky superhero delight.


Between work duties, family duties, holidays, and projects around the house, time for actual fun has been pretty sparse lately. That’s why, a few weeks ago, we decided to take a day and go to a museum. It was a nice, relaxing family trip, and was much-needed.

While we were there, I grabbed a little footage using my phone and when I got home, quickly cobbled it together (thus the crudeness of it) into this, our family tribute to the museum scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:

These are the dorky things my wife and son have to put up with on something as simple as a family trip when I suddenly get inspired by an idea. 🙂



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